Battersea Power Station under investigation for “dubious” investments

Former Malaysian PM Najib Razak (pictured below sharing a joke with David Cameron and Boris Johnson)  has been charged with corruption over a ‘£3.4bn fraud.’

Caption Competition: Former Malaysian PM Najib Razak, Boris Johnson and David Cameron

The purchase of Battersea Power Station, the biggest property deal in the UK, is under threat after Anwar Ibrahim, the new leader of Malaysia’s governing coalition said it would be investigated as part of “dubious” investments made by the previous administration.

The Guardian reported:

“Anwar Ibrahim’s comments will raise questions about the British government’s commitment to fighting corruption. He said the money trail of the 1MDB fraud ran through London, with $1.83bn of Malaysia’s cash funnelled into a Saudi-British company.

“There was no attempt by British authorities to investigate. But this was a crime using sovereign wealth funds for reckless spending sprees.” he said.

“I say to Britain: you talk about transparency and anti-corruption drives, now is the time for action. I am saying now allow the institutions to conduct investigations fairly and give the necessary cooperation.”

Anwar Ibrahim, the opposition leader spent nine years in prison on charges which have been confirmed as trumped up and politically driven.

We ask how does this impact on the future of the building? The signs are not good. Despite being festooned with cranes there does not seem to be much going on at the site, just the continuation of the demolition by stealth. The east and west walls of iconic art deco brick work have gone. The London luxury property market has effectively collapsed. Many key individuals, including long time CEO Robert Tincknell, have left the Battersea Power Station Development Company (did they jump or were they pushed?).

Are we going to be left, as predicted, with a useless and worthless ruin surrounded by hideous and empty flats that no one wants to buy? Will the poor workers of Malaysia ever see their money back?

You can read more about Battersea Power Station on our blog and watch our film Selling an Icon here:

 

Battersea Power Station: Selling an Icon from Spectacle Media on Vimeo.

‘Battersea Power Station: Selling an Icon’ tells the story of Battersea Power Station from its prominence as a site of industrial power through the years of dereliction, speculation and planning blight to the replacement of the chimneys under the current scheme – a key example of developer-led preservation. In an age of aggressive ‘big business’ redevelopment, the film gives voice to the local communities who are rarely consulted and often overlooked.

Filmed over 15 years, Spectacle’s new documentary follows the grassroots campaigns of Battersea Power Station Community Group to preserve the building for the public good. It takes us straight to the heart of the current conservation debate about whether – and how – historic buildings should be preserved, governed, modified or replaced, and ‘who’ they belong to.

Also available to purchase on DVD. For institutional buyers and public screenings, please contact us at distribution@spectacle.co.uk.

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Battersea Power Station: ghost flats worth £1.8bn!

Versione in Italiano

We learned from the pages of London Evening Standard that “More than £1.8 billion worth of homes have been sold at Battersea Power Station since they went on the market in January last year”. None on these flats have been built yet.

Apparently most of this £1.8 billion came from the fortunate global launch that Battersea Power Station Development Company organized last month.  As we already suspected, the search for overseas investors has not been affected by fear of the chinese property bubble bursting – the due date of which is still under discussion among financial analysts.  The threat of a Mansion Tax did not slow the rush of foreigners to use their deep pockets in order to get their piece of Battersea Power Station. Even if the London property market, as shown in Estate Agents Knight Frank’s report (see below), has appeared to slow down in the last few months, off-plan sales seem to work pretty well.Taking Battersea Power Station as reference for this trend, The Newstatesman  recently reported that:

“Off-plan profits hit the headlines last week with reports that a studio flat in Battersea power station, sold for close to £1m in the spring, is now due to go back on the market for up to £1.5m before it has even been built.”

Before anything has even been built, and while our concerns about the “Big Bang” business model of monstrous development projects are all to be proven erroneous, Battersea Power Station Development Company has actually done what all Battersea Power Station’s previous developers have already proven to be masters at: demolition!

Battersea Power Station: photograph taken by Spectacle on 08/12/2014

The first chimney of Battersea Power Station is gone. In the next weeks we will probably see it to come slowly back to a new life while the other three will start coming down all at once. We hope that the £1.8 billion will give Battersea Power Station Development Company enough energy to prove that, other than demolitions, they are good at building too.

 

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See our Battersea Power Station project pages for more information and videos.
Or visit PlanA our general blog on urbanism, planning and architecture.

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Battersea Power Station: appartamenti fantasma già venduti per £1.8 miliardi!

English version

Abbiamo appreso dalle pagine del London Evening Standard che “More than £1.8 billion worth of homes have been sold at Battersea Power Station since they went on the market in January last year”. Nessuno di questi appartamenti è stato ancora costruito.

A quanto pare la maggior parte di questi £1.8 miliardi proviene dalle vendite avvenute durante il fortunato lancio globale che la Battersea Power Station Development Company ha organizzato il mese scorso. Come sospettavamo, la ricerca di investitori stanieri non è stata resa difficoltosa dalle paure riguardanti l’esplosione della bolla immobiliare cinese – gli analisti finanziari stanno ancora discutendo su quando ciò avverrà. La minaccia di una Mansion Tax (tassa su immobili di lusso) non ha rallentato la corsa degli investitori stranieri per accaparrarsi il proprio costoso pezzo di Battersea Power Station. Nonostante il mercato immobiliare londinese, come mostrato dal report dell’agenzia immobiliare Knight Frank (vedi sotto), ha mostrato rallentamenti nel corso degli ultimi mesi, le vendite su progetto sembrano funzionare molto bene.Prendendo la Battersea Power Station come esempio di questa tendenza, recentemente The Newstatesman ha scritto:

“Off-plan profits hit the headlines last week with reports that a studio flat in Battersea power station, sold for close to £1m in the spring, is now due to go back on the market for up to £1.5m before it has even been built.”

Prima che sia stato costruito alcunché, e mentre le nostre preoccupazioni riguardanti il “Big Bang” dei modelli finanziari usati dai grandi progetti di sviluppo immobiliare aspettano di essere falsificate dai fatti,  Battersea Power Station Development Company ha già realizzato l’unica cosa che  tutti i precedenti costruttori impegnati nel progetto hanno mostrato di fare con maestria: demolire!

Battersea Power Station: fotografia scattata da  Spectacle il giorno 08/12/2014

Battersea Power Station: fotografia scattata da Spectacle il giorno 08/12/2014

La prima ciminiera della Battersea Power Station è andata. Nelle prossime settimane assisteremo con ogni probabilità al suo lento ritorno a nuova vita, mentre le altre tre ciminiere verranno smantellate contemporaneamente. Speriamo che i £1.8 miliardi daranno alla Battersea Power Station Development Company energia sufficiente per provare che, oltre a demolire, sono capaci anche a costruire.

 

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Selling Battersea Power Station over stormy seas

Versione in Italiano

 

Why has the demolition of the south west chimney at Battersea Power Station apparently come to a stop?

The chimneys as they appeared on September 27th

The chimneys as they appeared on September 27th

Chimneys on October 21th

Chimneys on October 21st

Maybe the project has hit a technical snag- the chimneys are far more robust than the Battersea Power Station Development Company have wanted to admit – but it could also be that it is a barometer of the global economy and an indication of how vulnerable their business model really is. The business model of the current owners, like the previous ones, is a precarious one based on an ever increasing UK property market.

However the current economic climate is not looking good. The property market, according to most informed opinion, has plateaued and, in London, is in danger of going down.

Simon Rubinsohn, Chief Economist at Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, in an article about the UK’s Property Market says:

“As a result of the rebalancing in demand and supply, house price growth across the UK appears to be moderating […] prices are still projected to rise nationally over the next year and expected to increase by 2.6% on a 12 month view (compared with around 4% at the start of the year)”
The pound is getting stronger against currencies like the Euro (Milan and Paris are targeted cities for the Battersea Power Station Development Company), making London a less attractive investment and interest rates are going up.

(www.xe.com)

(www.xe.com)

The Labour Party, if they win the election in May 2015, which if due only to the metronomic pendulum swing of UK politics between the two major parties, is a distinct possibility, are promising a “Mansion tax” on all properties worth more than £2m (here is the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors’ opinion about the Mansion Tax).

Then there is the UK housing crisis, caused in large part by the selling of London property to foreign investors who have no intention of living in the properties they buy. Whoever wins the next election they need to address this and no solution will leave the property market untouched.

The Financial Times seems to support our worries in a recent article:

“Uncertainty around new property taxes, the strength of the pound on global currency markets and the introduction last year of a tax on homes held through companies have all contributed to the slowdown, according to those involved in trading properties.”

The same article gives us a quite impressive picture of the property market situation.

Some data about English Property Market, as published by Financial Times on

Some data about English Property Market, as published by the Financial Times.

Perhaps the emphasis on selling off-plan to overseas investors is because while there are plenty of rich in the UK  they might be a harder sell being better informed. Overseas investors, basing their judgement on futuristic artists impressions are unlikely to be aware of the smelly and disruptive waste processing plant with its hundreds of daily truck deliveries of reeking rubbish.

Our two faced Mayor of London Boris Johnson, ever the populist, plays it both ways, touring China promoting the London property market as an investment and for a local audience blaming that very market on the chronic housing shortage.

Boris Johnson at the launch of London City Island in Ballymore group sales event in Hong Kong, 18/10/2013) (from http://www.ballymoregroup.com/en-GB/news/41)

Boris Johnson at the launch of London City Island in Ballymore group sales event in Hong Kong, 18/10/2013) (from www.ballymoregroup.com)

It might be coincidence but in the week the Chimney demolition halted it was reported that the Chinese property bubble would burst soon, probably 2015, with catastrophic ripple effect on the global economy and international banking- possibly triggering a global crash.

As Bloomberg reported recently:

“The Chinese crash might make 2008 look like a garden party. As the risks of one increase, it’s worth exploring how it might look. After all, China is now the world’s biggest trading nation, the second-biggest economy and holder of some $4 trillion of foreign-currency reserves. If China does experience a true credit crisis, it would be felt around the world.
[…]
The potential for things careening out of control in China are real. What worries bears such as Patrick Chovanec of Silvercrest Asset Management in New York, is China’s unaltered obsession with building the equivalent of new “Manhattans” almost overnight even as the nation’s financial system shows signs of buckling. As policy makers in Beijing generate even more credit to keep bubbles from bursting, the shadow banking system continues to grow.”

This week the Battersea Power Station Development Company launched their overseas selling campaign of luxury apartments. Three of the cities targeted are Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong- all especially vulnerable to the vagaries of the Chinese economy.

The new owners are no different to all the previous owners – they are just better at PR and have better access to overseas markets. As before, despite the excellent PR hype suggesting that “at last work has started”, bolstered shamelessly by a “purse whipped” English Heritage, the only thing the current owners have actually done is demolish – they are taking down the chimneys, demolishing the precious, Grade II listed Victorian pumping station and removing the iconic listed cranes.

In other words the new owners are just flipping the Battersea Power Station. Selling today artists impressions of what MIGHT be built in the future.

We wonder what guarantees prospective buyers have that the off-plan flats they are buying will actually materialise. But then, having more money than sense, they probably do not care.

 

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Battersea Power Station in vendita per mari perigliosi

English Version

 

Come mai i lavori di demolizione della ciminiera sudovest di Battersea Power Station sembrano essersi fermati?

The chimneys as they appeared on September 27th

Come apparivano le ciminiere di Battersea Power Station il 27 settembre scorso

Chimneys on October 21th

Le ciminiere di Battersea Power Station il 21 ottobre

Il progetto si è forse incagliato su qualche scoglio tecnico – le ciminiere sono molto più resistenti di quanto la Battersea Power Station Development Company sia disposta ad ammettere – o dipende dall’andamento dell’economia globale e si tratta, quindi, di un indicatore sulla vulnerabilità del piano finanziario del progetto? Il modello economico seguito dagli attuali proprietari, così come dai precedenti, è alquanto precario basandosi in gran parte sull’idea di un mercato immobiliare britannico in continua crescita.

Guarda caso le previsioni economiche attuali non guardano al bello. Il mercato immobiliare, secondo le opinioni degli esperti, è in stagnazione e, a Londra, corre il rischio di deflazione.

Simon Rubinsohn, Chief Economist del Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, in un articolo mercato immobiliare nel Regno Unito afferma:

“As a result of the rebalancing in demand and supply, house price growth across the UK appears to be moderating […] prices are still projected to rise nationally over the next year and expected to increase by 2.6% on a 12 month view (compared with around 4% at the start of the year)”

La sterlina sta diventando sempre più forte nei confronti dell’Euro (Milano e Parigi sono obbiettivi per il mercato della Battersea Power Station Development Company), rendendo Londra una città meno attrente in cui investire, con tassi di interesse in crescita.

(www.xe.com)

(www.xe.com)

Il partito laburista, in caso di successo alle elezioni generali di Maggio 2015 – possibilità dovuta al fatto che l’alternaza tra i due maggiori partiti della politica britannica è inevitabile come il movimento di un metronomo – ha promesso la cosiddetta “Mansion Tax”, una tassazione aggiuntiva su tutti gli immobili di valore superiore a 2 milioni di sterline (qui è possibile leggere l’opinione del Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors sulla Mansion Tax).

Poi c’è la crisi abitativa, causata in gran parte dalla vendita di immobili londinesi a investitori stranieri, i quali non hanno nessuna intenzione di vivere nelle case che comprano. Chiunque vinca le prossime elezioni dovrà mettere mano a questo problema, e qualuque possibile soluzione avrà inevitabili ricadute sul mercato immobiliare.

The Financial Times, in un recente articolo, sembra supportare le nostre preoccupazioni:

“Uncertainty around new property taxes, the strength of the pound on global currency markets and the introduction last year of a tax on homes held through companies have all contributed to the slowdown, according to those involved in trading properties.”

Lo stesso articolo è corredato da una fotografia impressionante della situazione che sta attraversando il mercato immobiliare.

Some data about English Property Market, as published by Financial Times on

Dati riguardanti il mercato immobiliare britannico, pubblicati su The Financial Times.

Può darsi che l’enfasi riposta sui piani di vendita a investitori stranieri, quando c’è abbondanza di ricchi anche nel Regno Unito, sia dovuta al fatto che gli investitori locali siano più difficili da convincere visto che sono meglio informati. Gli investitori stranieri, che fondano i loro giudizi su impressioni artistiche e futuristiche, sono probabilmente inconsapevoli dell’olezzo disgustoso proveniente dall’impianto di smaltimento dei rifiuti presente nell’area, con le centinaia di camion che quotidianamente vi riversano fatiscenti carichi d’immondizia.

L’eclettico Sindaco di Londra Boris Johnson, anche nella sua versione più populista, fa il doppio gioco: va in tour in Cina per promuovere investimenti nel mercato immobiliare londinese, mentre al pubblico londinese indica proprio questo modello di mercato come causa della cronica mancanza di abitazioni.

Boris Johnson at the launch of London City Island in Ballymore group sales event in Hong Kong, 18/10/2013) (from http://www.ballymoregroup.com/en-GB/news/41)

Boris Johnson interviene al lancio delle vendite del London City Island, in un evento organizzato dall’impresa Ballymore il 18 ottobre ad Hong Kong. (Fonte: www.ballymoregroup.com)

Può darsi che si tratti di una coincidenza, ma nella stessa settimana in cui la demolizione della ciminiera si è fermata sono stati pubblicati resoconti che indicano come la bolla immobiliare cinese stia per esplodere presto, forse già nel 2015, con catastrofiche ricadute sull’economia globale e sulla finanza internazionale – con la possibilità di innescare una crisi globale.

Come riportato recentemente da Bloomberg:

“The Chinese crash might make 2008 look like a garden party. As the risks of one increase, it’s worth exploring how it might look. After all, China is now the world’s biggest trading nation, the second-biggest economy and holder of some $4 trillion of foreign-currency reserves. If China does experience a true credit crisis, it would be felt around the world.
[…]
The potential for things careening out of control in China are real. What worries bears such as Patrick Chovanec of Silvercrest Asset Management in New York, is China’s unaltered obsession with building the equivalent of new “Manhattans” almost overnight even as the nation’s financial system shows signs of buckling. As policy makers in Beijing generate even more credit to keep bubbles from bursting, the shadow banking system continues to grow.”

Questa settimana la Battersea Power Station Development Company ha portato i suoi appartamenti di lusso in una campagna di vendite in giro per il mondo. Tre città raggiunte dalla campagna sono Pechino, Shangai e Hong Kong, tutte particolarmente esposte agli alti e bassi dell’economia cinese.

I nuovi proprietari non sono molto diversi da quelli precedentivi – sono solo più bravi in PR e hanno un migliore accesso ai mercati internazionali. Come in passato, nonostante gli eccellente battage pubblicitario sostenga che “finalmente i lavori sono iniziati”, sotenuto senza pudore dall’English Heritage, l’unica cosa che i nuovi proprietari hanno fatto in realtà è stato demolire – stanno abbattendo le ciminiere, demolendo la deliziosa e protetta Victorian pumping station e rimuovendo le iconiche (e protette) gru.

In altre parole i nuovi proprietari stanno facendo il loro gioco con la Battersea Power Station. Vendono oggi immagini fantastiche di ciò che POTREBBE essere costruito in futuro.

Ci chiediamo che tipo di garanzie vengano fornite agli eventuali acquirenti stranieri circa il fatto che gli apparatamenti che stanno comprando sulla carta vengano effettivamente realizzati. Alla fine, avendo costoro più soldi che giudizio, forse gli non importa più di tanto.

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Our Intentions – Peckham

800px-Rye_Lane_Station_1880

Spectacle has been observing and documenting the so called “regeneration” of London over the past 20 years, which has largely resulted in the displacement of local people, the break up of communities, the creation of gated communities and privatisation of public space. This process will lead to London becoming like Paris, where only the rich can afford to live in the city centre and the poor are pushed out to the suburban perimeter, with its associated rise in social tension and social segregation. The pursuit of profits by the privileged few is achieved at the cost of social cohesion, equality of opportunity and quality of life for the many. It is time our elected representatives, instead of being the midwife to such monstrous developments, took a stand to protect their less resourced citizens. But sadly most people in politics see it as a short cut to getting their legs under the boardroom tables and sharing the spoils. They are blind to more benign, alternative ways to really socially regenerate areas.

Peckham, London

We have been closely monitoring the developments surrounding the corporate plans for Peckham Rye Station and the surrounding area. Since January this year we have been filming and interviewing many of those affected by the Network Rail, Greater London Authority and Southwark Council plans.

In mid-May we will be submitting the first edition of our findings in a short, campaign film at a community awareness meeting in central Peckham. The meeting will aim to inform as many people as possible about the events unfolding in the area, as the level of consultation so far has been weak. The film will illustrate some of the devastating effects the redevelopment will have on independent businesses, the growing arts scene in Peckham and the vibrant cohesive community as a whole.

More generally, we are in the process of making a longer documentary dedicated to the story in Peckham, which will touch on corporate redevelopment of London, gentrification and the power of community.

 

If you would like to know more, are interested in sharing your experiences, or would like to contribute to our film about the Peckham Rye Station Redevelopment Project, just email: production@spectacle.co.uk

See Peckham for more blogs and information.
Or visit PlanA, our general blog on urbanism, planning and architecture.

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Harriet Harman MP met the community to discuss the future of Peckham

Harriet2

A recent meeting between Harriet Harman, MP and the business owners and residents affected by the Peckham Rye Station redevelopment, highlighted some local concerns regarding the Network Rail and Southwark Council plans.

Emphasis was on moving forward since receiving an extension for the GLA (Greater London Authority) funding of £5million, and implementing a consultation/co-design process between local people and architects. Yet ‘compromise’ was also a key theme throughout the meeting, which may prove to be a tougher pill to swallow, particularly with regards to the proposed residential buildings flanking the station.

Local architect, Benedict O’Looney, currently responsible for the restoration for Peckham Rye Station, suggested that rather than stick to the constraints of the land surrounding the station, designers should should look further afield for the space for residential property. On the opposite side of Rye Lane to the station, a large, open space currently occupied by a scaffolding company might make a better place for residential flats, than the cramped and heavily occupied space currently available.

This suggestion to relieve the pressure for housing in the area may make space for some of the original businesses surrounding the station to remain included in the plans, as in the initial design ideas drawn up by Peckham Vision. However, when Southwark councillor, Nick Dolezal, was quizzed over whether these plans would now be considered in the new, co-design process, the only reassurance he could give was that all the plans to date were “relevant”. It seems clear that a lot of unnecessary (public) expenditure has been incurred with regards to the Peckham Rye Station redevelopment, which is now receiving another overhaul.

Meeting2

Unfortunately, it seems that some businesses within the Network Rail estate have little hope of being saved by Southwark Council. Steven Salter, of Innovation Interiors, and Lee Parsons, of Tara Fabrications, voiced their concerns that Network Rail has categorically told them that their businesses are “undesirable” and would not be considered for relocation into Blenheim Court, even if they could afford it. Salter went on to describe how he felt pressured by Network Rail to comply with their notices, as in private meetings he has been told to “keep [his] passions for the community separate from [his] business” otherwise he could face “difficulties”.

Nick Dolezal washed his hands of responsibility as he explained that as Southwark Council are not the landowners for the proposed plans, they are only able to give stakeholders a “greater voice” and administer “guidance” to Network Rail and the GLA on this basis. Harriet Harman empathised and agreed that Network Rail are notoriously “underdeveloped” in the landlord aspect of their empire, particularly since only 6% of their revenue is reportedly invested in the Town and Country Planning Sector. She vowed to meet with Network Rail bosses to discuss how they could “up their game on social responsibility”, in response to Salter’s statements.

Meeting3

The council tried to make it clear to concerned stakeholders that they are still responsible for issuing any planning permissions and they have some control over the rental charges once a planning application is accepted. However, some residents gave the frightening example of a local, Network Rail refurbished unit currently on offer at £45,000 per year, which they claimed was unsuitable and unaffordable for any independent, local business, such as those in Peckham. It seems that despite government and council involvement, the future of Peckham’s small and medium enterprise’s still looks bleak if Network Rail is allowed to steam ahead.

 

Please feel free to leave your comments below.

Get in touch if you would like to contribute to our film about the Peckham Rye Station and Gateway Area Redevelopment Project. Just email: production@spectacle.co.uk

See Peckham for more blogs and information.
Or visit PlanA, our general blog on urbanism, planning and architecture.

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Pressurisation, Orders to Quit & Private Profit – Network Rail’s Business Model

EileenClaridgeNetworkRailNetwork Rail Winter Newsletter 2012 is dedicated to “Network Rail’s small business owners”. Astonishingly, the same newsletter also features an interview with Eileen Claridge (pictured above), who’s bulldozer attitude is leading to the extinction of exactly this type of business in Peckham.

Eileen Claridge has been tasked with generating financial profit for the Network Rail estate, and she has turned her attention to Peckham. The design plans that were unveiled on 18th January, in a poorly organised consultation meeting, have caused a ruckus amongst many local residents and business owners. Particularly disturbing was the architectural insensitivity to the surrounding areas, including the Rye Lane Conservation Area, the vast redevelopment (rather than regeneration) of the town centre and the absence of any local businesses that already occupy the site.

The Gateway AreaShe wants to design and build “new and flexible buildings”, ignoring the potential of the buildings already in place, such as the 1930’s building either side of the station and belittling the historic architectural conservation of the area. This mentality is all too common in corporations tasked with generating income – rather than saving money by utilising already instated property, the mentality is to spend lots of money to make lots more money. Jane Jacobs‘ prognosis that “new ideas must use old buildings”, has fallen on deaf ears.

Similarly, the lack of acknowledgement of existing businesses within the buildings and arches again indicates how little effort is made to understand the value of Network Rail’s commercial estates, beyond just landmass. There is nothing intelligent about issuing businesses with orders to quit, buying out lease holders, investing vast amounts in glass and stainless steel “workspaces”, then selling them off to private investors for private profit.

Lastly, informants who wish to remain anonymous have told us that Network Rail has been organising individual, private meetings with the tenants and business owners that occupy the site. In these meetings, vulnerable businesses are offered ‘a more comfortable ride’ with their relocating process, in the promise that they distance themselves from a campaign against the redevelopment. The very businesses that have brought people to Peckham recently and those that have been thriving here for years, are now being bullied into leaving their sites without a fuss, so the big boys can reap the benefits of their successes.

 

Please feel free to leave your comments below.

Get in touch if you would like to contribute to our film about the Peckham Rye Station and Gateway Area Redevelopment Project. Just email: production@spectacle.co.uk

See Peckham for more blogs and information.
Or visit PlanA, our general blog on urbanism, planning and architecture.

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Boxpark threatens to take Peckham as its next victim

01_LRPeckham Peculiar recently uncovered the revelation that may see the end of Peckham as we know it. Not only is Peckham currently battling to protect its thriving local businesses around the station from corporate advances, but it now faces a – not entirely dissimilar – threat from Boxpark; the leading light in over-night gentrification.

Boxpark is the brain child of CEO and founder, Roger Wade, and sees refurbished shipping containers, stacked on top of each other, they claim to be the world’s first pop-up mall in Shoreditch, no less. While the idea has given opportunity to some independent businesses, the local economy is not of primary concern as it is also home to high-end brands like Nike and Puma, as well as all the novelty establishments usually reserved for Glastonbury, like gourmet falafel vendors and taxidermy classes.

The success of Boxpark has been largely driven by tourism and a white, middle-class demographic of ‘alternative’ shoppers, and unarguably it has played some part in the pandemic that is now referred to as ‘Shoreditchification‘. By parachuting this type of demographic into Peckham, so quickly and efficiently, the diverse and cohesive community and businesses that already exist will be undermined, purely on the basis of knock-on rent increases.

A Boxpark can pop-up and then just as easily pop-off leaving the local market and small shops high and dry with “enhanced” rents.

We don’t need this spray on gentrification.

 

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Get in touch if you would like to contribute to our film about the Peckham Rye Station and Gateway Area Redevelopment Project. Just email: production@spectacle.co.uk

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Battersea Power Station – “London Only” sales claim is Bogus

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALondon, in recent years, has seen a boom in foreign property investment. With various far Eastern economies generating a new class of super-rich, London’s property market bubble is seen as a safe cash haven for this elite. According to Savills, international premium property retailer, 50% of the capital’s prime central homeowners is now dominated by overseas investors, which is furiously contributing to property price inflation.

Naturally, with Battersea Power Station being such an historically renowned architectural and industrial, Grade II listed, British icon, many are wishing to get a slice of the 400ft riverside views. Malasyian developers, Sime Darby, aim to create 3,500 new homes in 15 years, and have already sold nearly all of the 866 luxury apartments of the initial Circus West (or Phase 1) project, generating $1 billion prior to even being built.

However, much contention surrounded the project when Sime Darby refused to release what percentage of their buyers were domestic or international. With property shows for the Battersea homes, which range from £365,000 per studio flat to £6million per penthouse, advertising in China, Russia and Malaysia it is now clear that around 55% of the homes, went to foreign money before even appearing in the pages of Property Week in Blighty.

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This flew in the face of London Mayor, Boris Johnson, who had previously pledged that all property developed within the Power Station would be offered to Londoners first. Slightly perversely, the lack of priortisation for local buyers has been marketed as an apparent strain on London’s unaffordable housing problems, despite some penthouse suites retailing for up to £30million. As a result, developers have recently made a big song and dance about the London Launch of the Phase 2 development. These properties are intended to be exclusively on offer to UK residents before they are made globally available. The Battersea Power Station website encourages visitors to “Register an Interest” and Rob Tincknell, CEO of Battersea Power Station Development Company (BPSDC), recently claimed that:

“There has been a lot of comment recently about London’s housing problems and we believe the only way to try and solve this is to build great homes and create a community that people actually want to live in”

However, this PR stunt has recently been unearthed with a simple phone call to Battersea Power Station Development Company sales team. Upon being deciphered as an authentic potential buyer, the mole was told categorically that while there is a strict London-only launch of the Phase 2 properties on 1st May 2014, overseas investors are more than welcome to purchase the prospective homes if they are in the country or through their UK based agents. Therefore demonstrating that the press have once again been romanced into believing that developments of one of the greatest icons in British industrial history will be more than a juicy, international investment for oligarchs and millionaires. They have let this charade by developers go unchallenged and have reported it verbatim, letting our beloved Battersea Power Station slip further and further into flipping international hands.

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